Photo: Orchids at the Hollywood Farmers’ Market.
I’ve been telling stories as long as I’ve been speaking English. They used to be about penguins and cats, blue haired fairies and She-Ra. They’re a little different nowadays, but I’m still telling stories.
I was born at the Guam Memorial Hospital in September, 1983 to the playwright, union activist and science teacher, Diane Aoki. For six years, I lived in the Kaiser subdivision in Dededo where my mother grew up.
When I was six, I moved with my mother to Honolulu, Hawaii. I attended public schools, except for the one year I went to Catholic school and was told by an English teacher there that I was a pretty good writer.
In 1997, I wrote my first short play, Angels in the Sand. The play was produced under the Theaterfest program with the Honolulu Theater for Youth. I went on to write three more short plays that were produced through the program: Butterfly Girl, Fat Boy and Hollywood and Vine.
When I was 15, I read poetry in a nearby coffee shop. (It was the 90s.)
In 2000, my play Fat Boy won the Blank Theater’s Young Playwrights competition and was a runner up in the Young Playwrights, Inc. national competition.
In the spring of 2002, I started my undergraduate education at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in English, Creative Writing and a Theater minor in the winter of 2005.
Between 2006 and 2010, I began to garner professional experience in administrative positions at Village Roadshow Productions, Montecito Picture Company, Partizan, Bluewater Ranch, Artists Give Back and Midnight Films.
I loved movies and I loved the business of producing creative work, but I felt pulled in a different direction.
When I started grad school at Pepperdine University in 2010, I began producing public service announcements for farmer’s markets, educational nonprofits and international social ventures.
With a team of cohorts from Pepperdine, I led a presentation about social entrepreneurship and storytelling at the 2011 Hawaii International Conference for Business.
I began performing at coffeeshops again during open mic nights in Hollywood with Melinda Hill and Eve Sturges’ Hollywood Happy Hour Storytelling Experiment. I also performed at The Moth in Hollywood.
When I moved to Guam, I began to sign up for open mic nights as a storyteller sharing stories of my life, in hopes of finding others who have stories to tell.
What’s your story?